Building a better vegan or vegetarian sports diet
Among athletes, “going vegan” (or vegetarian) is not a passing fad. The most popular ages to start a vegan lifestyle are 19, 20, and 21.
High school athletes are more and more interested.
Many wonder how to follow a meatless sports diet, but the busy lifestyle of vegan athletes can create nutritional challenges.
For example, when eating on the go, vegans may find Oreos more readily available than, say, roasted chickpeas.
On-the-go snacks of a simple bagel or banana should be balanced with protein, but is hummus or soy milk readily available?
All of this means that vegan athletes need to be responsible and plan ahead.
When I listen to my vegetarian clients, I often hear “red flag” statements that signal misinformation.
Vegan and vegetarian misconceptions
“Carbohydrates make you fat, a waste of calories!” “
Plants are carbohydrates. Are vegetables a waste of calories? No.
While you may want to limit nutrient-poor carbs like grains or ramen noodles, healthy carbs should be the foundation of every meal to fully fuel muscles.
Athletes who train one to three hours a day can easily end up with unnecessary fatigue if they try to eat fruits and salads.
Cereals are not fat by nature. Excess calories from any food can make you fat.
As a vegan athlete, it would be wise to eat grains such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice as the base of every meal. Combine them with a colorful assortment of fruits or vegetables for more muscle fuel, and of course, a dose of protein.
“Lunchtime salads are a healthy vegan meal. “
While salads can be high in nutrients, they can also be low in protein and carbs, but high in calories with olive oil on a large salad that ends up being a lot of dressing.
Refueling calories from fat will not refuel depleted muscle glycogen. Vegan athletes might best refuel their muscles with a combination of grains and protein like a hummus wrap or beans and rice.
“Quinoa can be the ‘protein’ of a vegan meal. “
Quinoa is said to be a high protein grain, containing all of the essential amino acids needed for muscle building. It is not a stand-alone protein rich food. If you compare quinoa to other grains, you’ll see that it only offers 6 grams of protein for 200 calories, like rice (4g) and less than pasta (7g).
Most athletes should aim for 15 to 25 grams of protein with each meal. This means you want to add more than quinoa to your salad. And the tofu? Beans? Lentils?
“Almond milk replaces cow’s milk.”
Almond milk contains much less nutrients than cow’s milk. Eight grams of high quality protein from traditional milk is essential for sustaining life. One gram of low-quality protein in almond drinks is not.
Soy or pea milk is an acceptable dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk.
“Soy leads to cancer and man boobs.”
The latest research indicates that soy is cancer preventive and safe, even for women with breast cancer.
When it comes to male breasts, the only case study on the unusual development of male breasts refers to a person who regularly drank three liters of soy milk per day. That’s a lot of soy milk.
For the latest soy updates, enjoy this podcast.
“Protein bars and powders can replace real foods.”
Foods high in protein are preferable to highly processed bars and shakes.
Nutrients in natural foods interact synergistically Instead of another bar or shake for a meal or snack, how about cereal + (soy) milk, crackers + hummus or banana + butter nuts ?
Aren’t these real foods more in tune with the spirit of veganism?